What is a carotid aneurysm?

A carotid aneurysm is an aneurysm in one of the carotid arteries that supplies oxygenated blood to the neck and head. An aneurysm in this location is quite rare, but it can become a serious medical problem for the patient. Treatment for a carotid aneurysm is usually handled by a vascular specialist, who may work with others, such as a cardiologist, to provide the best care for the patient. In an emergency, a general surgeon may perform work on the aneurysm if a vascular surgeon is not available for the procedure.

Aneurysms occur when the wall of a blood vessel weakens and begins to dilate. The weakened area swells, thinning the side of the vessel, and there is a risk that the aneurysm may rupture, which can cause serious medical complications. In the case of a carotid aneurysm, the weakening occurs in one of the two carotid arteries that run along both sides of the neck.

Age is a common risk factor for aneurysms in general. Carotid aneurysms can also be caused by trauma, such as a knife injury, or by infection, including infection that has traveled from another area of ​​the body, such as a heart valve. Patients with carotid aneurysm are at risk of additional damage if they have high blood pressure. The aneurysm can also lead to blood clotting, which in turn can put the patient at risk of strokes caused by interruptions in the brain's blood supply.

Sometimes a carotid aneurysm is not recognized until it has ruptured or caused a problem such as a stroke. In other cases, it can be identified during a medical exam. Once a doctor finds the weakened area of ​​the artery, medical imaging studies may be ordered to see how large the aneurysm is. For a patient with a small carotid aneurysm, the best treatment may be no treatment, along with monitoring in case the area of ​​dilated blood vessels enlarges.

If clotting is occurring, anticlotting agents may be given to break up the clots and prevent further clots from forming. Blood pressure medications can also be used to control a carotid aneurysm by lowering blood pressure to reduce stress on the vessel. In cases where the aneurysm is at risk of rupturing, surgical techniques can be used to repair it, including endovascular techniques where the procedure is performed entirely within the artery with the use of catheters inserted into the vessel.

Go up